National Artist Ricky Lee Reveals His Writing Process

Lee reveals that he is the most creative in the morning.

He says, “I’m a morning person. I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and I start writing tuloy tuloy.

Lee adds that he’s “useless” in the afternoon and evenings unless there’s a deadline.

He also says that he is restless and must move around when he writes. This is a habit that he’s had since he was a student at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Lee shares, “I would take bus rides from UP to Quiapo and write there. Hindi ako bumababa, nakakailang biyahe siya. Pagdating sa bahay, tiyaka ko lang tina-type yung handwritten [notes].”

It’s a habit that has served him well. He wrote the 1990 film Andrea, paano ba ang maging isang ina? in a food court, and wrote another script on a plane ride. Lee wrote the entire script of the 2004 film Sabel in just four hours with no outline or treatment. The film went on to win two Gawad Urian awards, one for Best Actress for Judy Ann Santos and another for Best Supporting Actor for Wendell Ramos.

Lee said, “natuto ako to write in all circumstances dahil kailangan.

Like many writers, Lee uses outlines when developing his scripts and novels because he describes himself as disorganized and chaotic.

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Another important part of the writing process is listening to music. In fact, Lee calls music his highest passion, not writing or film. He says, “musicians are gods for me, not writers or filmmakers.”

His soundtrack to Para Kay B was Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” on repeat. While writing Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata, Lee listened to Kings of Leon, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens. He describes his taste in music as eclectic.